The Government’s Technology Agency Admits It Has Lousy Technology

The FCC’s aging technology leaves it vulnerable to attacks.

An unidentified employee lifts an old computer monitor for testing at RecycledPCparts.com August 1, 2002 in Opa Locka, Florida. The company, one of about 30 in the U.S., takes in outdated computer parts from businesses and organizations in the southeastern U.S., tests and recycles the parts, prepares the computers for re-use, and finally exports them for sale in 26 countries. It is illegal for large companies to dump old computer parts in landfills, so they must turn to demanufacturers like RecycledPCparts.com for computer disposal. Business for the company has increased so much since their 1998 inception that they are getting ready for their eighth move to a larger warehouse. (Photo by David Friedman/Getty Images)
National Journal
Laura Ryan
March 27, 2014, 12:39 p.m.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion is charged with reg­u­lat­ing the na­tion’s tech­no­logy and tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions in­dus­tries. But in house, the com­mis­sion’s own equip­ment is so de­fi­cient that its lead­er came to Con­gress this week plead­ing for an up­grade.

“We just simply can­not go on this way,” the vis­ibly frus­trated FCC chair­man told a Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee on Thursday.

At hear­ings this week be­fore the House and Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tees that handle his agency’s budget, Chair­man Tom Wheel­er told Con­gress that the FCC needs $13.5 mil­lion to up­grade its “an­ti­quated” tech­no­logy sys­tem.

Vul­ner­ab­il­ity to cy­ber­at­tacks is a top con­cern for Wheel­er. For ex­ample, many of the FCC’s com­puters still use Win­dows XP, the 13-year-old op­er­at­ing sys­tem that Mi­crosoft is end­ing sup­port for on April 8.

“As a res­ult of my be­ing here today … we will see a pre­cip­it­ous in­crease in the amount of at­tacks on the FCC web­site,” Wheel­er said Thursday. “If we have re­spons­ib­il­ity for the eco­nom­ic en­gine of the 21st cen­tury, we can’t be sit­ting here … ex­posed as we are.”

The out­dated tech­no­logy is also a drag on the agency’s ef­fi­ciency.

Im­prov­ing the agency’s ef­fi­ciency and ac­count­ab­il­ity is a high pri­or­ity for Con­gress and the new chair­man, and even Re­pub­lic­an Com­mis­sion­er Ajit Pai agreed that the sorry state of its IT makes it dif­fi­cult to achieve those goals.

Ac­cord­ing to Wheel­er, the agency has more than 200 dif­fer­ent com­puter sys­tems and 40 per­cent of its tech­no­logy is at least 10 years old. Money not spent on up­grades next year will be spent with­in two years on ex­pens­ive main­ten­ance.

Cit­ing his long ca­reer in the private sec­tor, Wheel­er said, “There is not a busi­ness in Amer­ica that would put up with this.”

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
17 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×